Sir Jim Ratcliffe is likely to target a full takeover of Manchester United, even if he does purchase a minority stake to start with, talkSPORT has been told.
The Ineos chief executive, who is notably a fan of the Red Devils, has been linked with a move to purchase shares in the Premier League giants following increased anger towards the current owners, the Glazer family.
Ratcliffe’s Ineos are the owners of French club Nice after completing a deal to purchase the Ligue 1 outfit for £88.77 million back in the summer of 2019, with the British billionaire’s team finishing fifth in the French top flight last term.
European football expert Andy Brassell has been watching Ratcliffe’s reign with Nice closely over the last three years, and while supporters of the French club are likely to be put out by the reported interest in United, Brassell believes that it’s a move that seems inevitable.
Speaking on Hawksbee and Baker about Ratcliffe’s running of Nice, Brassell said: “Bob, his brother, deals with the day-to-day and it’s changed a little bit this summer because they had a medium term appointment of Dave Brailsford, of the Ineos connect, to take over a lot of the day-to-day stuff almost became a de facto sporting director after Julian Fournier, the previous sporting director left.
“Brailsford was a big component in bringing in Aaron Ramsey, who split opinion about whether he was fit enough to make a contribution on a regular basis for Nice, and it seems like his role might be extended.
“The Ratcliffes have enjoyed having him there as well, they want to become more international but I’m interested to see what happens from this point because when we talk about the Manchester United interest, when Jim Ratcliffe was trying to buy Chelsea beforehand, there was quite a backlash in Nice with fans who were quite passionate and were upset by this.
“The sense was that they’d become less important. I guess it’s a much bigger version of what fans felt in Udinese when the Pozzo family bought Watford and Granada, they thought they were being deprioritised.
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“If they were to go in for Manchester United, and clearly that’s where Jim Ratcliffe’s head is at, I guess there would be a sense with Nice fans of ‘where is this going?’ even though the Brailsford appointment and continuing appointment had suggested that they were keen to keep roots at the club.”
Brassell added: “You know he’s got the money to affect a takeover of the club and buy up smaller shareholders.
“If he’s buying up a minority stake then that’s to do something else. That’s to mount a greater leadership challenge, you would think, but we’ll see.
“Globally, people are not unhappy with the way he’s running things at Nice. They’ve got a new stadium off the back of Euro 2016, they’ve got a great training facility, they’ve been ambitious in bringing in Patrick Vieira and Vieira wanted to go when the Ratcliffes came in, but they convinced him to stay and subsequently sacked him afterwards when results took a turn.
“There’s a general sense that they’ve done things the right way. They’ve invested in younger players, they’ve looked sustainable in doing things and obviously it’s a lot more challenging doing these things at Manchester United.
“It’s not quite taking over a distressed asset, but it’s a depreciated one to a certain degree, certainly in a sporting sense.
“It’s clear that he’d be getting sports people involved and if there was a bigger takeover at Manchester United or even a sizable minority shareholding, Dave Brailsford would get involved there because that’s been the speculation in France.”
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